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Annie J Ryan

A Summer of Second Chances (EBOOK)

A Summer of Second Chances (EBOOK)

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Her life was perfectly fine until that day at the beach.

Within one afternoon, everything falls apart for Mel Wilson. The college calls it restructuring, but she knows she’s lost far more than a job.

There are so many things she'd do differently now, but the one thing she'd never change is what she did at the beach that evening.

She flicks through the paper in her mother's kitchen while her children sleep in, blissfully unaware of the changes about to come crashing into their lives.

Only one glimmer of an opportunity presents itself, but it comes with an enormous risk and she doesn't trust herself anymore.

Starting over isn’t on her to-do list. 

Slip into a world where the ebbs and flows of the ocean are just as unpredictable as Mel’s life…
Escape to Pelican Point for an uplifting read about friends, romance, secrets, and family life. 
A perfect fit for fans of Milly Johnson, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, and Kay Correll.

This EBOOK will be delivered instantly by a BookFunnel email.


"...inspiring story in a beautiful setting..."

Mandy B.

"Loved, loved, loved the book! Was a great holiday read. So descriptive, funny, sad, and happy. Wonderful. Congratulations on this debut novel."

Sally J.

"...fantastic debut. A story that captivates and is hard to put down..."

Patti Z.

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First Few Pages of Chapter One

Mel would have drifted in the warm gloop for longer but for the bright strip of daylight across her face. Still trapped in the thick syrup of sleep, she struggled to open her eyes, but when she did they widened in alarm. Saliva tingled on her chin and an ache pulsed across her neck and shoulder. Flat against the hot glass, her cheek raged with sunburn. And there was blood on her shirt. Had she fallen asleep?
Her eyes locked onto the moony head filling the window. The car rocked as the door handle was gripped and lifted.
‘Jesus Mel, what happened?’ His eyes hovered right above her face after she’d let him in. He grabbed her hand where blood had congealed and his eyes rounded as he took in the splatters of it on her white shirt.
‘It’s nothing. A savage paper cut.
‘Why are you in your car at lunch?’ He looked around the car.
‘I wanted to read the letter alone.’ She saw the lines of concern. ‘There’s nothing else, truly Royce. I tried mopping it up, see?’ She held up a bloodied wad of tissues and waggled the inflamed and crimson finger lined with a fresh tear.
‘You had me worried.’
‘I got it when I pulled out the letter.’ On the floor by his feet were the shredded remains.
‘The students really like you.’
‘I love working with the students.’ She held a tissue to her nose.
‘And you give excellent career advice.’
‘Actually a lot of them don’t want to study business and accounting.’ She blew into another tissue.
‘I get that, but the point is to keep some of them in your course.’
‘I know.’
They’d started in the business faculty as the same time, but Royce’s genius with all things technological meant he was fast-tracked to a leading position and offered tenure with an enviable career path.
‘You don’t even like accounting Frodo.’ He nudged her shoulder.
‘I was never in love with it Samwise.’ She offered him a thin smile before she gathered the tissues and tossed them onto the back seat.
‘It might be why you didn’t get your contract renewed.’
‘I’m thinking you’re right.’
‘I can’t understand why you chose accountancy instead of counselling or psychology?’ The intensity of his gaze made her turn away. If she removed herself and pretended that it was someone else they were talking about, she’d have a hundred good ideas. Because, she wanted to say, it gets complicated when you’re divorced with children and you’re me. But she bit her lip, pushed stray locks of dark hair behind her ears and thought about a mature response.
‘I didn’t mind it in the beginning and I was good at it. Besides, I had no idea what to do and I needed to earn money.’ It was confronting, examining herself from his perspective.
‘Do you know now?’
‘Yes, but I can’t afford to go back and study with kids to support.’ She wouldn’t tell him because it sounded childish to moan about the guidance counsellor from high school. Mel had been advised to think about a more practical career. The counsellor said there would only be one or two positions each year for the thousands that applied in that line of work.
He patted her leg and shuffled towards the door. ‘I’d better get back. Coming?’
‘In a minute.’ When her eyes landed on the shredded letter, her chest sank. ‘Don’t say it. You don’t have kids, a mortgage and a fist full of bills.’
‘I do as a matter of fact. Minus the kids and the mortgage.’
She managed a wan smile. He’d paid of his house with a family bequest and Linley, his wife, ran a hearing clinic.’
‘No platitudes Royce, not from you or Samwise.’
‘Right.’ She attempted to ward off pricks of self-pity when he leaned over and squeezed her, but a bit leaked out of her eyes.
Inflated with pride at the success of their offspring or businesses, she observed colleagues and school mums shimmer with an inner glow. Their sparkler was definitely lit. The trajectory of her present life suggested hers was lost, spent or broken.
At the age of forty-two, she preferred to maintain a safe distance between herself and the crunch and grind of a pedestrian life. If she could pay her bills, feed her children, meet her mortgage and not look up, she wouldn’t have to see what was headed her way. But once she saw the crisp white envelope, the fog-like mist she shrouded herself in fell away. A confrontation with the mess of reality was inescapable and it made her struggle to think and compressed her lungs; and much as she would have liked to push it all away and skip down to the river to become an unencumbered soul, she’d miss the children. Would they cope without her and still love her? If only she knew. No, she’d made the mistake of utterly falling in love with each child and they were inextricably linked forever and ever, or at least until they left home. Either way, they were not the responsibilities she wanted to escape. Not really.
Bright light bounced off the clinical walls of the staff bathroom and onto the mirror where large brown eyes stared back at her, dull and puffy, and her cheeks bore small red angry spots. Usually round and full, her curves sagged and pulled her downwards; her five-foot-four frame seemed too big for her diminished self. She dumped each item of clothing onto the floor, kicking them aside to wriggle into the forgiving stretchiness of her running pants. She wasn’t the only one to decline the after-work drinks. Royce confided to her that several more letters had been distributed during lunch.
At the beach car park, she closed her eyes and placed her head against the backrest. ‘It’s your own fault,’ she told herself, but the desire to lash out whipped around and she wished she could blame someone else.
Cool ocean air slapped her face and an ache ran under ribs. She pressed at it with the flat of her palm, pretty sure it was her heart, incandescent with rage.
Once out of the car, she slammed the door and took long awkward strides. Her thoughts swirled. Two of her credit cards were over the limit and one was close to getting there. What was she supposed to do now? Panic rose in her throat. The run was supposed to fill her with endorphins.
Toward the end of the run, a resounding pistol crack split the air. She flinched and looked around to locate the source. Beyond the moving strand of people, she saw the front end of a car creased into concrete kerbing; plastic panel work and parts of a headlight lay scattered on the grass and road.

Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
Deb J
Top class womens’s fiction

I really enjoyed this book. It’s very pacy and readable and there’s a real authenticity about the main character and her relationships and challenges. Also love the way the setting and landscape are woven through the story - beautiful writing. More like this, please!

Sharyn Oneill
Great beach read!

Picked this up recently from a friend - loved the focus on the WA coast and its women. Looking forward to more stories with real characters…… thank you

The Rickster
Great holiday read

I don’t read a lot of fiction, but was pleasantly surprised with this one. I related to the Great Southern coast of Western Australia and recommend it as a great holiday read.

A compelling read.

If you love beaches and are a mother, this novel will appeal to you. The choices and decisions a mother must make is at the heart of this story which makes it a compelling read. Loved the Western Australian context. Wondering what Annie J Ryan will do next?

Loved this book ,

Especially the character Mel who moved to Albany , Annie J Ryan is a great WA author . I read this at my local beach this summer , it made me laugh I couldn’t put it down !